Following the ghastly attack by Maoists at Sukma in Chhattisgarh on March 24, several media reports made one believe that the government was failing in its mission against the Naxal menace. As many as 25 CRPF jawans were martyred, when the Maoists, or Left Wing Extremists (LWEs), ambushed the soldiers while they were protecting workers engaged in the construction of a road in Sukma.
The Sukma Maoist attack shocked the country and reports of the failure of government’s policy against the Maoists were apparently the results of the shock and frustration arising out of the deplorable incident. However, the government says its policy against Red terror is successful, forcing the Naxals to retreat and they are launching “desperate” attacks on the security forces.
In a press release, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has explained how it is successful in its operations against the Naxals. It also talks about the development initiatives by the government and steps taken to empower the security forces in the state. Here are the details:
The government has increased the funds to take on the challenge posed by Maoists in the state. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the funds released for ‘Security Related Expenditure Scheme’ have been increased from Rs 575 crore in 2011-12, 2012-2013, 2013-2014 to Rs 675 crore in 2014-15, 2015-2016, 2016-2017. The state also gets a greater share (42%) of the Centre’s tax resources. Earlier this used to be only 32%.
Number of security personnel deployed in Naxal-affected areas
As many as 45,000 Central Forces, over 20,000 state police personnel are posted in Bastar region. The government is conducting regular recruitment. For a force of 70,000, about 3,000 policemen retire every year and there is always a pipeline of 6,000 people under recruitment.
The government introduced a ‘Bastar Package’ to equip Chhattisgarh police forces in a better way in 2015. The government says there is a complete coordination between Centre and State forces.
Most the successful year — 2016
According to the Home ministry, 2016 was the most successful year in anti-LWE operation. As compared to an average of 30 Naxals killed every year, 135 Naxals were killed in 2016. This number was three times the number of police personnel killed.
In 2017, 32 Naxals have been killed so far which is more than the average annual killings of Naxals before 2015.
Reports claiming 72 CRPF personnel have been martyred in 2017 in Chhattisgarh are wrong, the ministry says. In fact, it says, 38 CRPF personnel have been martyred in Chhattisgarh this year.
Retreating Maoists launching ‘desperate attacks
According to the release, the policy of Government of India has “substantially” brought down the violent Maoist incidents in Chhattisgarh. There has been a 7% decline in overall violence incidents since 2013. “The LWE Cadres are in fact in retreat and resorting to desperate attacks,” it says.
The government recently sanctioned a Bastaria Battalion with a strength of around 750 personnel to be recruited from the local tribals.
Special battalions, bulletproof vehicles etc
Also, 10 Special India Reserve Battalions (SIRB) and 56 India Reserve Battalions have been raised in Maoist-hit areas. There are 58 Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs) available in Chhattisgarh to armed forces and 30 are to be procured from the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) soon. Besides, 42 Bullet Proof vehicles have also been provided to security forces and 210 more such vehicles are to be procured soon.
The government has undertaken several initiatives in the region. Recently, a Rs 11,725 project worth was sanctioned for the construction of 5,412 kms road in LWE-hit areas.
The government has launched skill development programme, set up Navodaya and Kendriya Vidyalayas, banks, ATMs and post offices in all 35 worst affected LWE districts.
The Home ministry says that the flagship NHRM programme is followed up by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the area on a constant basis and a super speciality hospital has been approved recently at Jagdalpur by way of upgradation of the Jadgalpur Medical College.
Assistance to martyred soldiers
According to the Home ministry, the next of kin of a martyred soldier currently get around Rs 84 lakhs as assistance.
The government also clarified that no directions were issued by the MHA to media for not showing grieving widows of soldiers on TV. It was a suggestion verbally made because of the “sensitivities of the bereaved families and the fundamental decency of not intruding into the privacy of the grieving families.”